Monday, March 06, 2006

Infinite Index

So, I started, and it's harder than I thought it was going to be. Indexing is difficult to begin with, but indexing a work of fiction--and this work of fiction particularly--is rather an interpretive undertaking. I am forced to decide what is important, what I will want to find later. It's rough.

There are things that I am indexing that perhaps seem like irrelevant minutia, but they are not.

It's going to take more than one read to index. I've gotten to page 43 on this first read and have marked some things. I need to read these pages again to get a better idea of what comes up again and again and deserves index space.

I'm having trouble deciding how to index people--or if I even should index people, as a general rule. There's this part of me that wants to be able to look in the index under "Himself" and be directed to any entry that includes him as a character or is about him. That could get messy, but it would be rewarding.

The trouble is that there are so many people in this book. Shall I index every one of them? Shall I stick to Hal's immediate family only? I think it's overkill to index every time Mario and Hal have a conversation, but, what if I want to find all of them later? I should just do it, I guess. They do have a quite a few good conversations.

I think I will be indexing certain themes, too. Like domestic violence. Wouldn't it be nice to just find all the terrible domestic violence stories by looking under one heading? Yeah.

And words. I am 40 pages into the book and I have already read etymological discussions of 5 or 6 different words. That's the type of thing that I am lucky to have begun marking this early--I know I will find other entries like that, later on in the book, and be pissed that I didn't start marking them earlier. That's why I am saying it'll take more than one read. When I finish this read, I should have a somewhat thorough index, but it will take reading again to really flesh it out. What if, on page 799, I realize I need to have been marking a certain type of entry? I will have missed all the entries on pages 3-798 (starts on 3).

This is gonna be wicked-awesome.

Any tip, hint, advice, or criticism is welcomed and appreciated by me, the mad indexer.


Wyrd said...


well, this is certainly a new idea to me ...

under what will the canine cruelty fall? 'the doggie bit that I dislike'?

littlegoat said...


Definitely under "Lenz," the character associated with that. Then, there's the accidental dog-cruelty, too.

I should have a heading of "Animals" and then go subheadings after that.

It's good that I'm thinking about this right now, because I can index animal stuff now, and I probably wouldn't have thought about it until later.

Erdedy's insect, too. Damn. I have to figure out how far I want to go with this. It can't be like a normal index. I'm compelled to index things that one normally would not.

heatherfeather said...

ew - i forgot about erdredy's bug. that always creeps me out.

actually, i hate that whole scene in erdredy's apartment - makes me remember why i don't do the drugs.

i think that indexing hal and mario conversations are really important, because they have the best conversations... more interesting and less annoying than hal/O conversations.

don't forget to note all references to porn watched in reverse, just because it's freakin' awesome how much restraint DFW has. :)

you are a god.

themachineghost said...

I hope this doesn't ruin anything for you, but I googled and found a couple of online indexes for IJ that other people have done. Would it help to look and see how they did it, or would it ruin the process for you? I think if it were me it might ruin it, so I don't know.
You are insane to undertake such a thing. Insane/brilliant.

littlegoat said...

Wow, really? I hadn't even thought to see if one existed. Hmm. Iim not sure the world needs another Infinite Jest index.

Off to teh google.